Stone appeal judges explain case

 

A prisoner who claimed he heard killer Michael Stone confess to the 1996 Russell murders was motivated by his “repugnance” at the crime.

Lawyers in Stone’s second appeal argued the main prosecution witness, Damien Daley, was a heroin addict and a liar.

But Lord Justice Rose said on Friday he was “unpersuaded” Daley’s drug use “significantly devalued” his evidence.

Stone lost his appeal on Wednesday against his conviction for killing Dr Lin Russell and daughter Megan.

Stone is serving three life sentences for the attacks in Chillenden, Kent.

His appeal against his conviction for the attempted murder of Lin Russell’s other daughter Josie Russell was also dismissed.

Heroin addict

Stone was convicted at two trials - the first was in 1998, before appeal judges ordered a retrial. He was convicted again in 2001.

Speaking about claims made in court that Daley was a heroin addict, Lord Justice Rose said: “We are unpersuaded that it significantly devalues Daley’s evidence so as to cast doubt on the safety of the verdicts.”

He said Daley had heard details about the attack from Stone that were not in the public domain or capable of being inferred from information already reported in the press.

The judge said although Daley’s evidence was crucial to the prosecution case, it was not the only evidence which linked Stone to the killings.

He said circumstantial evidence included the fact that Stone always carried a hammer in a tool bag in his car, he was seen by a witness with blood on his t-shirt and a bloodstained bootlace was found near the bodies similar to those used by Stone to raise veins in his arm so he could inject himself with heroin.

Stone also had previous convictions for violence, including using a hammer to commit grievous bodily harm.

Dr Russell, 45, and her daughters were attacked with a hammer by Stone as they walked home from a swimming gala.

Guilt ’not in doubt’

Josie, who now lives with her father in North Wales, survived the attack, but suffered severe head injuries and brain damage.

After the failure of the second appeal, Stone’s sister Barbara Stone said his family planned to take the case to the House of Lords, but on Friday the appeal judges rejected the request on a point of law of public interest.

Assistant Chief Constable Peter Philpot, of Kent Police, said he was delighted with the result.

“After nine years of thorough and painstaking investigation... there remains no doubt of Michael Stone’s guilt.”

He pointed out that although Stone had continued to protest his innocence, he had chosen never to give evidence at either of his trials.

[The above report was first published on the BBC’s website on January 21, 2005. It is reproduced here without the accompanying photographs. Reports of the trials and appeals of Michael Stone can be found on many websites; this BBC report includes videos and links to many related articles. The original url was/is http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/kent/4193449.stm. The reader should of course bear in mind that much of the material available on the World Wide Web is transient, and even many permanent web pages change their urls from time to time].

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